Three UK expeditions included in this year's Shipton-Tilman awards

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 11/05/2015
Peaks of the Virjerab. Janusz Majer
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Of the six expeditions recently announced by Gore-tex, which have gained valuable Shipton-Tilman grants for 2015, three are from the UK.

Celebrating the spirit of British mountain explorers Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman, the 25th annual Gore-tex Shipton-Tilman awards, which this year total $20,000, are offered to small teams with "daring and imaginative goals", travelling in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner.

In keeping with the Shipton-Tilman ethos, these trips will normally have a high exploratory element.

The experienced team of Phil de Beger, Aiden Laffey and Pete Thompson hope to explore the Virjerab Glacier, three days trek beyond Shimshal Village in the Pakistan West Karakoram.

A small Polish team including veterans Janusz Majer and Krzysztof Wielicki climbed here in 2012, reaching one 5,900m peak, the first summit climbed in this area.

Thompson's team plans ascents of 6,000m peaks both north and south of the lower glacier, with the main aim the first ascent of Khurdopin Sar (6,310m) at the head of a side glacier named Spregh Yaz.

Also going to Pakistan, in an effort to encourage sorely lacking tourism in the Karakoram, is James Monypenny.

Together with Canadian Max Fisher, Monypenny hopes to make the first ascent of Tangra Tower (5,620m) in the little visited Khane Valley south of the more well known Nangma and Charakusa regions.

The area was first investigated by Bulgarians several years ago and out of a multitude of spectacular rock towers, to date only three have been climbed. This will be a big wall climb in a remote location.

In the West Kokshaal-too, straddling the Kyrgyzstan-Chinese border, the all-female team of Emma Crome, Libby Southgate, Heather Swift and Emily Ward plans to try a new route on the second highest summit of the range, Pik Kosmos (5,940m).

Despite one previous ascent in the 1980s via a hard line on the northeast face by a Soviet team during the competition era, a route that would now appear to be unfeasible due to dangerous serac formation, several elegant ridge lines remain. 

Southgate and Ward bring their experience of two previous visits to this range.

All three trips have already been awarded grants from the Mount Everest Foundation and BMC, and the Kosmos team additionally received the 2015 Alison Chadwick Award, and a Julie Tullis Award.

One recepient of a 2014 Shipton-Tilman grant was the UK expedition led by Julian Freeman-Attwood, which took place this spring and had planned to explore the little known Gorakh Himal in West Nepal.

Although the team was only troubled by tremors from the earthquake during the approach trek, the Nepalese staff lost their village in Gorkha and a house in Kathmandu.

This, combined with an unprecedented amount of snow, which would have made reaching base camp extremely difficult, meant there was no reasonable way the expedition could continue.

The other three trips to gain Shipton-Tilman grants this year feature predominantly American climbers.

Dubbed the "Not ready to be Housewives" expedition, Quinn Brett, Whitney Clark and Crystal Davis-Robbins plan to climb in the Obra Valley of the Indian Garhwal, an area visited in recent years by two British expeditions. They also hope to visit the Satling Peaks, a collection of granite spires south of Thalay Sagar.

Greenland explorers Mike Libecki and Ethan Pringle have located a (secret) location of big walls and towers on Greenland's east coast. Libecki is one of Americas foremost explorers of big walls around the world, and has already made a number of previous ascents in East Greenland.

Following a report and photo coverage in last year's American Alpine Journal by the Japanese explorer Tom Nakamura, Pat Goodman, Matt McCormick and the Chinese based Brazilian climber Marcos Costa will visit the Nyainbo Yuze Group in Qinghai, China.

Although not a high massif, this group is an extensive collection of predominately granite peaks with challenging rock walls that could potentially become a little alpine paradise.

Some summits have been climbed previously (the highest 5,369m). The American-Brazilian team hope to climb the 950m south face of unnamed Peak 5,250m

The average grant awarded to these six expeditions was $3,000.
 



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